UK road pricing draws nearer as new diesel trucks lined up for 2040 ban

UK road pricing draws nearer as new diesel trucks lined up for 2040 ban

07/13/2021

The Government’s plan to plug the £30bn lost fuel duty gap is taking shape with reports suggesting sales of new diesel trucks will be banned a decade after ICE cars.


UK road pricing is understood to be moving a step closer to reality, following the leaking of a document that indicates sales of new diesel-powered trucks will be banned from 2040. The move would come hot on the heels of 2030’s ban on petrol and diesel powered cars, with new plug-in hybrid models also set to be banned from 2035.

According to the Financial Times, the Government will unveil its transport decarbonisation plan on Wednesday. This will see preparations begin for the introduction of road pricing, with such a programme necessary to plug the expected £37bn shortall caused by lost fuel duty and road tax revenues as the UK moves away from petrol and diesel cars. 

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The Treasury had previously prepared a paper on the subject for Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was said to be “very interested” in the idea.

Auto Express submitted a freedom of information request to the Treasury back in November 2018, asking if it was considering nationwide road pricing to make up for projected lost fuel duty revenue. The Government admitted that “HM Treasury does hold information within the scope of your request”, but refused to provide details as the Freedom of Information Act allowed such withholding of information if it related to the “formulation of government policy”. 

Specifics on how nationwide road pricing would work have yet to emerge, but it is generally considered that a pay-per-mile system, potentially linked to GPS modules in cars, or the UK’s extensive ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) camera system, would be brought into play. Potentially higher charges for more polluting cars could also be introduced.

The Government paper is also expected to ban sales of smaller diesel-powered trucks from 2035, and trucks weighing more than 26 tonnes will be outlawed by 2040, the FT says, having spoken with people briefed on the proposals. Last year, Volvo and Daimler were among six truckmakers who pledged to end sales of diesel models by 2040.

The Government is also understood to be readying a consultation into a California-style ‘ZEV mandate’. Similar schemes currently operational in several American states, two Canadian provinces, and China, compel car manufacturers to sell an increasing number of zero-emissions vehicles as a percentage of their overall sales, or purchase credits from other manufacturers.

According to a Policy Exchange report released last year, the ZEV mandate could ultimately serve as a replacement for the government’s plug-in car grant, and would be cost-neutral for the Treasury. Funds currently earmarked for the PiCG could be redirected to increase the rollout of nationwide charging infrastructure. Contributing a foreword to the report, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the author’s mandate proposals would be studied: “closely as we consider how to make the date a reality”.

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